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Invented pasts, imagined futures: world's fairs, cities, and narratives of Brazilian nationhood in the built environment, 1893-1976




De Souza Avelar, Lucas, author
Payne, Sarah, advisor
Orsi, Jared, advisor
Thomas, Adam, committee member
Tulanowski, Elizabeth, committee member

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In 1976, a deafening historical silence emerged from an empty square in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after the former building of the senate ceased to exist. With the authoritarianism of the military dictatorship and the increasing industrial and urban development since the 1950s, the Monroe Palace, one of the early twentieth-century architectural gems of the city, suffered a gradual but violent loss of meaning. When the federal district moved from Rio de Janeiro to the utopic and modern Brasilia, in 1960, an intense debate around the future of the palace arose among intellectuals, architects, and statecraft agents. The palace, however, had a long history before its downfall, and its destruction in 1976 was just one piece of a broader, more abstract process of change over time. In the ideological dimension, specific ideas of Brasilidade – or Brazilian nationhood and cultural identity -- traveled through space and time and manifested in the physical world through world's fair pavilions in Chicago (1893), Saint Louis (1904), New York (1939), Brussels (1958), as well as in the Monroe Palace in Rio (1906-1976). These different ideas of Brasilidade referred to multiple meanings and ideologies of nationhood, modernity, modernization, tradition, past, and future that were attributed to those physical constructions. As my research demonstrates, the mutilations in the Monroe Palace and the trajectory of different Brazilian pavilions in world's fairs served as case studies to understand the maturation of Brazil's ideologies of nationhood in the twentieth century.


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Embargo Expires: 08/22/2024


built environment
world's fairs
material culture
national identity


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